Groundbreaking launches Google data center in Papillion

PAPILLION, Neb. (WOWT) -- A $600 million addition to Nebraska's economy took root in a one-time Sarpy County cornfield Friday morning with the formal ceremony to launch Google's new data center near Papillion.

Formal groundbreaking ceremony for Google data center in Sarpy County

"The veil has officially been lifted," said Dan Harbeke, Google's Head of External Development.

Plans for the Papillion facility in Sarpy County were unmasked in February as part of the company's "$13 billion in investments throughout 2019 in data centers and offices across the U.S., with major expansions in 14 states."

Attendees for the official groundbreaking included Governor Pete Ricketts, Congressman Don Bacon, Papillion Mayor David Black and officials representing Sarpy County, Omaha Public Power District, the Greater Omaha Chamber and Google representatives.

Speakers at the Friday ceremony took turns calling this development the result of teamwork.

Governor Pete Ricketts said, "This does not happen because of one person or one group."

Speaking on behalf of several organizations, OPPD President and CEO Tim Burke said, "A project like this is about partnership."

Rep. Don Bacon put out the Welcome Mat for the company - a welcome, "to Silicone Prairie." He added, "We are proud to have you."

The data center will be built on a 275-acre site on the west side of Papillion. Data centers for Facebook and Travelers Insurance will be among its future neighbors.

Google also has data centers in Council Bluffs.

Harbeke pointed out the company's Iowa facilities saying Google is no stranger to the neighborhood.

"These data centers are really the engines of the Internet," he said.

The latest engine should fire-up in Sarpy County over the next 18 to 24 months as the new operation is built. Officials have said it will employ at least 30 people.

"We want to be deeply engaged in every one of those communities and one example of that today is a gift of $100,000 to the Springfield Platteview Community Schools for STEM and computer science education," said Harbeke.

Sarah Ortiz teaches material science and chemistry at Springfield Platteview High School, she says this gift will help grow their programs.

"It's going to be huge to buy a lot of the different equipment that we need, 3D printing for an emerging technology class that we are hoping to start offering and incentives like that," said Ortiz.

Brett Richards, the superintendent, hopes this will attract more students to the school.

"Being a smaller high school we cant usually offer as many curriculum and courses as some of the bigger high school may be able to so they're going to be able to come in and really enhance some of our engineering and robotics programs," said Richards.

Not only will the State of Nebraska and the City of Papillion benefit, but the students will too.

"Because that's what's going to fast track our nation with math and science and just doing a good job on all the technology initiatives coming through. So, if we can get students excited now about the education then they'll take those classes in college and we'll start seeing some advancement in those areas," said Richards.